Identity of the Church of Christ
TWO Divine Marks
As we view the pages of the New Testament, we comprehend that there are a few things that our Lord said about us that would be the marks of identity to the rest of the world. One of these marks have been respected and followed religiously by many of us, while the other mark has been lacking to a greater degree. The first of these is one where few of us who read this have a problem. We understand it quite well, but the second is almost a rare thing among us. In my many years of being in the church, I have only seen it a few times on a congregational level. If you think about it, all the other traits of identity are secondary to these two, or we could say that the other marks of identity are built upon these two.
Jesus taught us that if we were to demonstrate our love towards Him, that we would have to OBEY Him. John 14:15 tells us: If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. The Hebrew writer tells us this about Jesus Christ: He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation. (Hebrews 5:9) Jesus even asked why we call Him the Lord of our lives if we are not going to obey His commands (John 14;23-24; Luke 6:46).
And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, I have come to know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.(1 John 2:3-6).
By being just such a person, we will be IN HIM. And of course, Ephesians 1:3 teaches us that ALL spiritual blessings are IN CHRIST.
I have full confidence that most of those who read this paper are IN CHRIST, and that you fully understand your responsibility to God and your fellow man, and that you know the importance of obedience to ALL that God commands. The second Divine mark that will be discussed is a little harder to find in the church today.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.(John 13:34-35). John also emphasized this in his later letter; For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another (1 John 3:11).
The phrase one another is used over seventy times in the New Testament. Without exception, every time that phrase is used, it is concerning our relationship with our fellow Christians. There are words in the New Testament that tells us of our responsibility to mankind in general and how we are to deal with enemies of our own and enemies of the cross, but this phrase is exclusively used in our dealings with fellow saints in the church. More specifically, it speaks of the saints in our local assembly. These are fellow Christians struggling through life such as we are. As much as we need encouragement and love shown to us, we must do so for our fellow saints.
Sadly, it is a poor testimony for many of our congregations because this trait is not as evident as it should be. Yes we emphasize OBEDIENCE, but too often we lack love. Brethren, do your part to change this attitude in your own local assembly, and you will be blessed abundantly for such. May God bless us all in our efforts to promote love in the church.
Go to the December article
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